Wise beyond his 18 years, with talent to boot, James T.W.’s aptly titled debut EP First Impressions (Island) make a good first impression indeed. From his respectful cover of the Natalie Imbruglia hit “Torn” (released the year T.W. was born), to empowering originals such as “Different” and “When You Love Someone,” he is an artist who definitely knows how to reach his audience and uplift them when necessary. Discovered, if you will, by label-mate Shawn Mendes (of “Stitches” and “Something Big” fame) with whom he is currently on tour, James T.W. is off to a strong start. I spoke with James in July.
Ta’von Vinson, an African-American gay playwright and Baltimore native, decides to take a break from writing and hops over to The Drinkery for a much needed stress reliever. One can find him frequently at the Bun Shop or in passing with a friendly demeanor and colorful locks in the community. An outreach specialist with Johns Hopkins, he has many accomplishments, including his book Positively Me (about his experiences with HIV/AIDS) and being producer / director of the play What We’re Taught at the Arena Players under his company, Theater Coven Productions. He personifies through his writing the celebration of diversity with black gay characters in real life. Baltimore OUTloud caught up with Ta’von briefly to ask him some questions about his character choices, works in the future and the imagery of black gay men on television.
There’s no denying that Cheyenne Jackson has it all. He can sing, he can write songs, he can dance, he can act (comedy and drama), and he’s a fine specimen of male beauty. He’s also an exceptionally nice and funny and smart guy. On his new album, Renaissance (PS Classics), some of which is drawn from his one-man show “Music of the Mad Men Era,” Jackson performs stellar renditions of classic tunes such as “I (Who Have Nothing),” “A Change is Gonna Come,” “Feeling Good,” and “Besame Mucho,” as well as the original “Red Wine is Good for My Heart,” to name a few. I spoke to him about the disc and more in June 2016.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the longstanding British new wave musical influences of the 1980s? The holy trinity of The Cure, Depeche Mode, and The Smiths? Of course, you’d be remiss if you left out Howard Jones. A vocal presence since the early 1980s when his first hit single “New Song” was in rotation on the radio and on MTV, Jones lived up to the promise of that track with a series of unforgettable singles. Songs such as “What is Love?,” “Things Can Only Get Better,” “Life in One Day,” “Everlasting Love,” and his biggest hit, “No One is to Blame,” established his lasting legacy. Not one to sit on his laurels, Jones continues to make music to this day, including songs heard in the 2016 Hugh Jackman film Eddie the Eagle. I recently spoke with Jones, who is currently on a U.S. concert tour, about his career and more.
It’s been five years since country diva Lorrie Morgan released a new studio album. If you’ve been waiting patiently, your persistence is about to be rewarded with not one, but two new albums from Morgan. The first, Letting You Go... Slow (Shanachie), is a fabulous mix of covers of classic tunes (“Ode To Billie Joe,” “Lay Lady Lay,” “Is it Raining at Your House?”) with newer selections (“Slow,” “Something About Trains,” the Morgan original “How Does it Feel”), that is a most welcome return. The second album, A Picture of Me (Goldenlane) takes an unusual approach to the greatest-hits concept with all-new recordings of some of Morgan’s most beloved songs, alongside cover versions of some of her personal favorites. I spoke with Morgan about the new albums and more before she embarked on a concert tour.
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